Why Relevancy Matters When Building Backlinks

You might know that link building is important in SEO but do you know what the very best backlink you can get is? Here’s a clue: it has nothing to do with Page Rank (directly at least) and nothing to do with the type of site the backlink is on (it could be a news site, a company website, a social site, or just someone’s personal blog).

The perfect backlink to get would be from the page that is currently ranked in first position on Google for the keyword or phrase you are targeting. Why this is the case is quite simple – Google currently considers the page in position #1 to be the most relevant to the user query (hence why it is being returned by Google). If this page then links out to another page on the same topic, this other page will receive a high ‘local score’ and a significant boost in the search engine rankings for the same user query.

This is not just some theory I have; this is based upon a Google patent filed in 2001 and granted in 2003 to do with reranking results based upon local inter-connectivity (you can read the whole thing here – http://www.google.com/patents/US6526440 – but be warned it’s quite technical).

Take a look at the diagram below which comes directly from the patent.

Google patent flow chart

What this flow chart says is that an initial set of relevant documents (pages) is generated when a user performs a search; this number could be anything but let’s assume for simplicity’s sake that it is 100.

Google will then calculate what it refers to as a LocalScore. In the patent it explains that it does this by examining these 100 pages looking for instances where one page links to another within the set. It will do this for each page.

Those pages that have links from lots of the other pages will be promoted in the results. The more links a page receives from others within the set, the more it will be promoted.

This is probably a simplification of the actual methodology they use, but the theory is the same.

What this means is that the best links you can get if you want to rank for a specific user query are from pages that already rank for this query. I then make the assumption that a link from the page in position 1 contributes slightly more to a LocalScore than a link from the page in position 50. I do this because it seems like a logical and reasonable assumption to make.

Clearly it is not always possible to get a backlink from the pages that already rank well for a given search term, so what a good SEO professional should try to do is to rank multiple pages (that are under your control but on different domains/IPs) for that search term and then link them to the main page that you wish to rank.

So let’s say you want to rank for the term “pink fluffy widgets” and you have your page already set up and potentially ranking somewhere lower down in the top 5 – 10 pages of results. To boost this page to the top of the search results, you could try to create other pages about pink fluffy widgets and rank them too.

There are a number of ways that you could achieve this:

1. Create parasite pages

Don’t be concerned by the name because this isn’t illegal in any way and is generally considered to be a fairly white hat method of promotion. All it involves is creating and optimising a page on another website and adding a link back to your main page.

To do this you might make a video and host it on YouTube, you might record a podcast and host it on SoundCloud, or you might create a press release and submit it to PRWeb. You can link from each of these pages back to your page on pink fluffy widgets.

The trick is to choose websites that already have a lot of authority (as those mentioned above do) and then make sure that when you create your page, it has all the correct on-page SEO.

2. Guest Post On Popular Blogs

You’ve probably read plenty about guest blogging and how it’s been overused in recent years and how Google have tackled it by penalising some sites that do too much of it.

But Google has said that they target low quality guest blogging and that’s not what I’m talking about it. I am suggesting that you contact the biggest blogs in your niche and convince them to let you write for them. You can then tailor the post so that it targets your chosen keywords.

A good blog (one that is relevant and has authority) should stand a good chance of ranking in the top 100 but you could always give it a slight boost yourself to make sure of it.

3. Create a Private Blog Network

This is a technique that is gaining more and more popularity as it gives you complete control over your backlinks. It basically involves you setting up multiple websites (people commonly use a blog structure but you don’t have to) and adding links back to your main website.

While it’s not strictly within Google’s guidelines, it does work very well if done right. So if you can rank some of these other websites of yours even in low positions within the top 100, you will increase your LocalScore and thus boost your rankings.

Talking To The Incumbents

Depending on the area you are working in, you can actually contact the sites who have pages currently ranking in the top 100 for your targeted term. Sometimes you might be able to come to some arrangement so that they link to your page – I won’t say what this arrangement might be but you can use your imagination.

If you are thinking about hiring someone to do your SEO, ask them how they go about building backlinks and judge whether it fits with the principle I’ve outlined here.

Or you could contact me to get a free SEO review of your business’ website and rankings.